Lightning sparks fires in Auberry and Prather areas, officials say

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Fire crews were still battling nine separate fires in the Auberry and Prather areas of Fresno County late Friday night, and Cal Fire officials say lightning strikes are to blame. (KFSN)

Fire crews were still battling nine separate fires in the Auberry and Prather areas of Fresno County late Friday night, and Cal Fire officials say lightning strikes are to blame.

These wildland fires started fast, and because of the wind, spread fast. A Cal Fire official said the nine fires covered about 40 acres in all, so they had to fight them from the ground and the air.

One lightning strike was loud enough to shake two girls out of the house where they were starting a Friday night sleepover.

"My dad yelled 'fire,' and he ran over and grabbed the shovel, and he told us to call 911," Haley Piek said.

A little farther north on Auberry Road, homes and even horses were threatened by fast-moving flames. Rieb Hovde lives across the street. He had to see what was going on.

"In a minute and a half it can be a brush fire that you can't really stop anymore," Hovde said.

Access wasn't always easy, but neighbors on the front lines were also there to help.

"We'll take whatever action we need to stop these fires. If we need to go through a fence, we'll do that," Cal Fire Unit Chief Mark Johnson said.

A plane drops retardant on a fire in the Auberry area on Friday, June 5, 2015.



That was the battle on the ground. In the air, hazy gray skies were met with streaks of red. Air tankers also dropped water to help hold fires until ground crews arrived.

"Because as you can see I mean it's just ridiculously dry out here, even if the rain fall that did come down, it just evaporated right away," Chief Johnson said.

He says fire crews will be out there all night but should be able to control the fires. Johnson says containment is at about 10 percent.
Related Topics:
firewildfirebrush firelightningsevere weatherfresno countyAuberryPrather
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